A couple who hand-built a Hobbit-style house have won a legal battle to avoid it being demolished. They successfully argued it met guidelines that promote sustainable building.
Charlie Hague build the house by hand on his father’s land in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It cost the equivalent of US$23,000 to build, using entirely natural materials from the surrounding area. These include straw bales and lime plaster for the walls, a grass roof and wood for the internal structure.
Hague and his partner took the saying “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” literally and built the house without the planning permission that is needed to build homes on undeveloped land in the area. They were then given a demolition notice in 2013. That prompted them to apply for retrospective planning permission; had they not done so, they would have had two months to tear down the house before local officials did so forcibly.
The local authority refused that application in July 2014, in turn prompting the couple to file an appeal, the outcome of which would be final. They asked for special exemption from normal planning requirements under a program titled One Planet Development.
The program’s criteria not only involve the building but also the couple’s lifestyle. They had to show they would be able to get two-thirds of all their subsistence needs from the surrounding land, which they say they will do through a combination of a woodworking business, growing soft fruits to sell for desserts, and earning cash payments from generating renewable energy.
The argument proved successful and the couple have now been granted the planning permission, lifting the demolition threat.
Here’s the video we posted in 2013: